Study finds heavy-petroleum fuels raising vanadium emissions; human emissions outpacing natural sources by factor of 1.7

Human emissions of the potentially harmful trace metal vanadium into Earth’s atmosphere have spiked sharply since the start of the 21st century due in large part to industry’s growing use of heavy oils, tar sands, bitumen and petroleum coke for energy, a new Duke University study published in the Proceedings... Read more →


Shell completes divestment of oil sand interests in Canada; retains Scotford refinery and plants

Royal Dutch Shell plc announced the completion of two previously announced agreements by Shell Canada Energy, Shell Canada Limited and Shell Canada Resources (Shell) that will see Shell sell all its in-situ and undeveloped oil sands interests in Canada and reduce its share in the Athabasca Oil Sands Project (AOSP)... Read more →


Alberta Innovates has teamed up with Natural Resources (NRCan) and industry partners to take three clean oil sands technologies to commercial demonstration. This announcement is a result of NRCan’s Oil and Gas Clean Tech Program. NRCan is contributing $21 million and Alberta Innovates is investing $5.2 million, for a total... Read more →


US State Department issues Presidential Permit to TransCanada for Keystone XL

The US Department of State has signed and issued a Presidential Permit to construct the Keystone XL Pipeline. The permit authorizes TransCanada to construct, to connect, to operate, and to maintain pipeline facilities at the US-Canadian border in Phillips County, Montana for the importation of crude oil. In November 2016,... Read more →


Sustainable Development Technology Canada (SDTC) is awarding Nsolv $13 million in grant funding to commercialize its field-tested, proprietary warm solvent technology for in situ heavy oil extraction without the use of steam. Among its benefits, the technology reduces greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by lowering the amount of energy needed to... Read more →


Shell marked the official opening of the Quest carbon capture and storage (CCS) project in Alberta, Canada, and the start of commercial operations there. Quest is designed to capture and safely store more than one million tonnes of CO2 each year—equal to the emissions from about 250,000 cars. Quest was... Read more →


US rejects Keystone XL pipeline, citing combatting climate change as critical factor; Kerry: arguments pro and con “overstated”

On Friday, US Secretary of State John Kerry issued his determination that “the national interest of the United States would be best served by denying TransCanada a presidential permit for the Keystone XL pipeline. President Obama agrees with this determination and the eight federal agencies consulted under Executive Order 13337... Read more →


A team at the University of Calgary (Canada) has compared the energy intensities and lifecycle GHG emissions of unconventional oils (oil sands and oil shale) alongside shale gas, coal, lignite, wood and conventional oil and gas. In a paper published in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology, they report... Read more →


In a new, comprehensive study, a team from Argonne National Laboratory, Stanford University and UC Davis ITS has estimated the well-to-wheels (WTW) GHG emissions of US production of gasoline and diesel sourced from Canadian oil sands. The analysis uses an expanded system boundary including land disturbance-induced GHG emissions and also... Read more →


Substituting biofuels for marginal fossil-based liquid fuels results in the avoidance of significant GHG emissions that are not currently accounted for in the European Renewable Energy Directive (2009/28/EC), according to a new analysis by the consultancy Ecofys. The study was commissioned by the European Oilseed Alliance (EOA), the European Biodiesel... Read more →


Enbridge has devised a way to ship more oil sands crude from Alberta to the US via its Alberta Clipper pipeline without getting further tangled in the type of review that has kept TransCanada’s Keystone XL pipeline proposal mired in limbo for years: switching crude from one pipeline in its... Read more →


Results from a new modeling assessment of contamination in the Athabasca Oil Sands Region (AOSR) suggest that officially reported emissions of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in that region have been greatly underestimated. The study, which was carried out by University of Toronto Scarborough Environmental Chemistry professor Frank Wania and his... Read more →


Incremental well-to-wheels GHG emissions from WCSB Oil Sands Crudes Compared to Well-to-Wheels GHG Emissions from Displacing Reference Crudes Click to enlarge. The State Department released the long-anticipated and voluminous Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (Final Supplemental EIS) for the proposed Keystone XL oil pipeline project. The document is posted on... Read more →


Average estimated biodiversity intactness for >350 species in the AOSA. Dark red identifies the quarter sections that are estimated to have the lowest average biodiversity intactness, and dark green identifies quarter sections with the highest intactness. The enlarged area highlights the estimated intactness for quarter sections of land in the... Read more →


Trends in well-to-wheel pathway-specific CI. In situ production began in 1974, so no value is computable for 1970. Click to enlarge. The carbon intensity (CI) of Alberta oil sands production has significantly decreased over the last 40 years, according to a new study by a team from Stanford University published... Read more →


Plot of cumulative steam-to-oil ratio (cSOR) vs. ratio of energy produced in form of chemical energy contained in bitumen if combusted to energy injected in form of steam (75% efficient steam generation). From Gates and Larter (2013). Click to enlarge. A team at the University of Calgary has assessed the... Read more →


Molten Salt Gasification Process. Click to enlarge. Western Hydrogen Limited reported first production of hydrogen from its Molten Salt Gasification (MSG) pilot plant in Fort Saskatchewan, Alberta. The MSG process, under license from Idaho National Laboratory, uses a combination of molten sodium salts (sodium carbonate and sodium hydroxide) to convert... Read more →


The Alberta Energy Regulator (AER) reports that 1,275.7 m3 (337,004 gallons US) total bitumen emulsion has been recovered from the ongoing bitumen upwelling at four sites in Canadian Natural Resources Limited’s Primrose project. The incident site locations are approximately 45 km NW of Cold Lake, Alberta. CNRL is using high... Read more →


The proposed Keystone XL pipeline for transporting oilsands-derived crude to Gulf Coast refineries would have “no material impact” on US greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, according to a new Insight report by IHS CERA. In a June speech at Georgetown University, President Barack Obama said that the controversial Keystone XL pipeline... Read more →


BC government won’t support Northern Gateway oilsands pipeline as presented over spill response concerns

In its final written submission to the Northern Gateway Pipeline Joint Review Panel (JRP), the government of British Columbia states that it cannot support the project as presented to the panel primarily because Northern Gateway (NG) has been unable to adequately detail its response to a spill. The Northern Gateway... Read more →


The Government of Canada is supporting a three-year project that will result in the construction of a $19-million, demonstration-scale facility in Alberta that will use algae to recycle industrial carbon dioxide emissions from an oil sands facility into commercial products such as biofuels. The Algal Carbon Conversion (ACC) Pilot Project... Read more →


Flowchart of Molten Sodium Upgrading process. Source: Field Upgrading. Click to enlarge. An innovative oil-upgrading technology that can increase the economics of unconventional petroleum resources has been developed under a US Department of Energy-funded project. The technology, developed by Ceramatec and managed by the Office of Fossil Energy’s National Energy... Read more →


Route of the Pegasus pipeline. Source: ExxonMobil. Click to enlarge. A breach in ExxonMobil’s Pegasus crude oil pipeline occurred late Friday afternoon near Mayflower, AR (about 20 miles north northwest of Little Rock and at the southwestern end of the Lake Conway reservoir). The pipeline has been shut in and... Read more →


Total injected hot fluid and total produced liquid for the nanocatalyst experiments at temperatures of 320 and 340 °C. Credit: ACS, Hashemi et al. Click to enlarge. Researchers at the University of Calgary are developing ultra-dispersed (UD) nanocatalysts for the in situ upgrading of heavy oil and bitumen from deep... Read more →


Comparison of proposed Keystone XL route to previously proposed project segment. Source: Draft SEIS. Click to enlarge. The US Department of State (DOS) has released its Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) in response to TransCanada’s May 2012 application for the Keystone XL pipeline that would run from Canada’s oils... Read more →


Flowchart of the MSG process. Source: Western Hydrogen. Click to enlarge. A consortium led by Canada-based Western Hydrogen Ltd. will receive a $C1.5-million investment from Sustainable Development Technology Canada to support the development and commercialization of a new hydrogen manufacturing technology called Molten Salt Catalyzed Gasification (MSG), originally developed at... Read more →


CCS infrastructure for six key CO2 emission prices. Sources are red and sinks are blue. The amount of CO2 captured (as a proportion of the maximum capturable amount) at each source is depicted by the dark wedges. Wedges for the sinks depict the amount of CO2 stored (as a proportion... Read more →


Standardized values (Z scores) of (A) visible reflectance spectroscopy (VRS) chlorophyll a inferences from the five lakes proximate to major oil sands operations as indicators of lake primary production; (B) total PAH concentrations and (C) total DBT concentrations from all six study sites. Source: Kurek et al. Click to enlarge.... Read more →


Comparison of GHGenius, JACOBS, TIAX, and the new PRELIM gasoline greenhouse gas (GHG) estimates using base case estimates and variations from the scenario analysis. Credit: ACS, Abella and Bergerson. Click to enlarge. Researchers at the University of Calgary (Canada) have developed the Petroleum Refinery Life-cycle Inventory Model (PRELIM). PRELIM uses... Read more →


Average values for WTW GHG emissions for oil sands and other crudes, tight boundary. Source: IHS CERA. Click to enlarge. When the boundary for measuring GHG emissions is placed around crude production and processing facilities, for fuels produced solely from Canadian oil sands the average well-to-wheels (WTW) life-cycle GHG emissions... Read more →


An example of the evaluation “diamonds” for one technology in each of the research, development and commercial stages. These diamonds report a weighted average score for technical, environmental, social and economic criteria, and in addition indicate the quality of the data that was available. Click to enlarge. A collaboration of... Read more →


China’s CNOOC to acquire Canada-based Nexen for $15.1B; offshore oil and gas, oil sands, and shale gas

CNOOC Limited—China’s largest producer of offshore crude oil and natural gas and one of the largest independent oil and gas exploration and production companies in the world—is acquiring all of the Common Shares of Canada-based energy company Nexen Inc. for US$15.1 billion cash. The price represents a premium of 61%... Read more →


Well-to-wheel (WTW) greenhouse gas emissions for in situ SAGD and surface mining pathways generated employing GHOST/TIAX/ GHGenius combination and comparison with SAGD, mining and conventional crude oil literature pathways (all results are on a HHV basis). Xs show comparative results from literature. Credit: ACS, Bergerson et al. Click to enlarge.... Read more →


World oil production capacity to 2020 (crude oil and NGLs, excluding biofuels). Source: Maugeri 2012. Click to enlarge. Oil production capacity is surging in the United States and several other countries at such a fast pace that global oil output capacity could grow by nearly 20% from the current 93... Read more →


The new extensions will provide enhanced capacity to carry Canadian and Bakken crude to the US Gulf Coast. Source: Enbridge. Click to enlarge. Enbridge Inc. and Enterprise Products Partners L.P. have secured capacity commitments from shippers to proceed with construction of a 512-mile, 30-inch diameter twin (a parallel line) along... Read more →


Researcher urges more effort on assessment of land and water impacts of oil sands production; reference point for other unconventional fuels

Bitumen production from the Canadian oil sands provides a point of reference that could be used to observe and better manage the land and water impacts of a rapid transition to unconventional fuels, suggests Dr. Sarah Jordaan of the Energy Technology Innovation Policy Research Group, Department of Earth and Planetary... Read more →


Study finds plausibly high volumes of Canadian oil sands crudes in US refineries in 2025 would lead to modest increases in refinery CO2 emissions

An analysis of the US refining sector, based on linear programming (LP) modeling, finds that refining plausibly high volumes of Canadian oil sands crudes in US refineries in 2025 would lead to a modest increase in refinery CO2 emissions (ranging between 5.4% to 9.3%) from a 2010 baseline, depending upon... Read more →


Study concludes permanent loss of peatlands in open-pit oil sands mining adds significantly to carbon burden of oil sands production

Researchers at the University of Alberta (Canada) have quantified the transformation of the boreal landscape by open-pit oil sands mining in Alberta, Canada to evaluate its effect on carbon storage and sequestration. Their analysis suggests that carbon storage loss caused by peatland conversion could be equivalent to as much as... Read more →


Canada oil sands producers form alliance to improve environmental performance

Twelve of Canada’s oil sands producers have formed a new alliance, Canada’s Oil Sands Innovation Alliance (COSIA), focused on accelerating the pace of improving environmental performance in Canada’s oil sands through collaborative action and innovation. Through COSIA, participating companies will capture, develop and share the most innovative approaches and best... Read more →


North American, annual-mean OMI (Ozone Monitoring Instrument) tropospheric NO2 VCDs (vertical column density) (2005–2010) averaged onto a 0.25° x 0.25° grid. The oil sands region within Alberta is indicated. McLinden et al. Click to enlarge. Atmospheric nitrogen dioxide and sulfur dioxide pollution over Canada’s oil sands region is comparable to... Read more →


US BLM issues draft PEIS for oil shale and oil sands; significantly scales back public land available for commercial leasing

The US Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has published the Notice of Availability (NOA) of the Draft Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PEIS) and Possible Land Use Amendments for Allocation of Oil Shale and Tar Sands Resources on Lands Administered by the BLM in Colorado, Utah and Wyoming. The publication opens... Read more →


Proposed oil sands monitoring by 2015. Click to enlarge. The Government of Canada and Government of Alberta unveiled “The Joint Canada-Alberta Implementation Plan for Oil Sands Monitoring” in a partnership to improve environmental monitoring in the oil sands region with a program that will sample more sites for more substances... Read more →


Keystone XL Pipeline application denied; Obama says not a judgment on merits of the pipeline

The US Department of State recommended today to President Obama that the presidential permit for the proposed Keystone XL Pipeline be denied and, that at this time, the TransCanada Keystone XL Pipeline be determined not to serve the national interest. The President concurred with the Department’s recommendation, which was predicated... Read more →


Natural Resources Canada team investigates solvent extraction process for oil sand bitumen; non-aqueous alternative to hot water processing with reduced environmental impacts

A team of two researchers from Natural Resources Canada’s CanmetENERGY reports on a new process for solvent extraction of bitumen from mineable Athabasca oil sands (i.e., surface mining, not in situ well-based production) in a paper published in the ACS journal Energy & Fuels. Wide-scale deployment of such a non-aqueous... Read more →


Full-fuel-cycle GHG emissions estimates for reformulated gasoline pathways by LCA study. Nominal value of 70 g CO2/MJ for combustion emissions is applied evenly across all studies. Credit: ACS, Brandt 2012. Click to enlarge. In a paper published in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology, Stanford University assistant professor Adam... Read more →


CSLM image (63x) of 3-day-old aerobically grown biofilm on CBD pegs. Autoflouresence of hydrocarbons from the tailings can be seen in the background and small clusters of cells are indicated with a white arrow. Source: Golby et al. Click to enlarge. Researchers at the Universities of Calgary and Alberta are... Read more →


Enbridge’s current liquids pipelines (not showing Seaway or proposed Flanagan South and Wrangler). Click to enlarge. Canada-based Enbridge Inc. has entered into an agreement to acquire ConocoPhillips’ 50% interest in the Seaway Crude Pipeline System for US$1.15 billion. On closing, Enbridge will become joint owner of the pipeline with Enterprise... Read more →


Kinder Morgan to purchase El Paso for approximately $38B to form largest natural gas pipeline network and largest midstream energy enterprise in North America

Kinder Morgan, Inc. (KMI) and El Paso Corporation on Sunday announced a definitive agreement whereby KMI will acquire all of the outstanding shares of EP in a transaction that will create the largest midstream and the fourth-largest energy company in North America with an enterprise value of approximately $94 billion... Read more →


Unconventional liquids become increasingly important in the total supply of liquid fuels, according to IEO2011. Click to enlarge. Worldwide energy consumption will grow by 53% between 2008 and 2035 with much of the increase driven by strong economic growth in the developing nations, especially China and India, according to the... Read more →


Enbridge liquid pipelines with Athabasca twinning project shown. Click to enlarge. Enbridge Inc. will twin the southern section of its Athabasca Pipeline from the Kirby Lake, Alberta terminal to the Hardisty, Alberta crude oil hub at an estimated cost of approximately C$1.2 billion (US$1.2 billion). The twin line will initially... Read more →